After reading “A Good Man Is Hard to find”, the reader gets varied opinions about some of the major characters. Analysing the Grandmother is no different: it reveals varied opinions about her nature and intentions. A reader who is not keen maybe confused about who the Grandmother really is.
The reader may perceive the Grandmother as a manipulator who uses every opportunity for her own selfish gain. Alternatively she may also be viewed as a normal human being who has common human weaknesses and faults like any other person, but despite these weaknesses she still tries to do good to her family members.
The Grandmother’s final act can be interpreted in two ways. It may be seen as an indication of character transformation, after realising that she has led a bad life and thus wants to change for good. Some people may perceive her actions as another way of her usual attempts to save herself. Despite the varied opinion about the grandmother, her manipulative behaviour is very clear to the reader throughout the story.
The grandmother is outrightly a manipulative woman throughout the story. However, her manipulative tendency is concealed in the manner in which she expertly executes it. She takes every opportunity to have her way in every situation that does not favour her. This is evident from the onset of the short story till its end.
For instance, she manipulates Bailey so that not to go to Florida by scaring him about the criminal activities in Florida and the threat she is likely to experience once she goes there. She tells Bailey that there is a loose criminal in Florida and that she cannot take any of her children to that place with such a criminal at loose (O’Connor Para. 1). Bailey does not appear scared by that comment.
So that to convince Bailey not to go to Florida the Grandmother comes with another manipulative scheme. She tells Bailey that children ought to go somewhere else they have never been before (O’Connor Para. 2). However, this trick does not work as the family eventually travels to Florida.
Her manipulativeness continues to be seen throughout the story as she uses other people to get what she wants. The grandmother knows that Bailey would not allow her to visit the old plantation. She therefore excites the children about visiting the old plantation. She also lies to Bailey that there was a hidden family treasure in the house in the old plantation (O’Connor Para. 45). It is the children who convince the reluctant Bailey to visit the old plantation, much to the grandmother’s satisfaction.
Other than her actions, her dressing and mannerism too are manipulatively used to conceal her real identity and intentions. From the onset of the story she portrays herself as the ultimate lady by through her dressing. She tries very much to look like a respectable lady through her dressing as she adorns herself in neat clothes trimmed with beautiful laces. She also adorns a beautiful necklace.
Her sense of dressing created a notion that she was a respectable lady to anyone who saw her (O’Connor para 12). Her ladylike dressing is centrally to her real character.
Her manipulation can be seen from another perspective. It highlights the power of brain over physical might. This is seen through her relationship with The Misfit. She successfully uses such endearing terms as “you’re a good man” and “You wouldn’t shoot a lady, would you?” towards The Misfit (O’Connor Para. 89) to catch him off guard and make him not kill her.
The Misfit’s response that he would hate to kill her also highlights the fact that the grandmother manipulative tendency reveals the misfit’s other side: that he is not a misfit after all.
The grandmother tries very much to present herself as a prefect lady. This is done through her dressing and general mannerisms. However, her manipulative behaviour is a stack contrast of her outward disposition. Her lifestyle reveals duo personality, which is useful to the development of the story. What makes her even more useful to the story is the way in which she prevalently manipulates her way for selfish gains.
O’Connor, Flannery. “A good man is hard to find.” n.d. July 1, 2011 http://pegasus.cc.ucf.edu/~surette/goodman.html